Short Jungyo News – Days 3,4

Day 3 took place at Kusatsu, Shiga prefecture. Day 4 took place at Echizen, Fukui prefecture. Here are some of the things that happened, on and off the Jungyo.

Injuries

Yeah, we couldn’t do without those, could we? Takanosho, a.k.a Onigiri-kun, injured his right knee during practice, and left for Tokyo, joining his two heya mates who are already kyujo, Takakeisho and Takagenji. The only Chiganoura sekitori to stay in the Jungyo is Takanofuji, the evil twin. I hope it’s not one of those career-shattering injuries.

And Ryuko, who was having a streak of bad luck ever since he had the privilege of being Aminishiki’s last opponent, also made his way to Tokyo with an injury. It’s not clear whether it’s a new injury or a lingering one from the basho.

Meanwhile, we are informed that neither Takakeisho nor Takayasu will be joining this Jungyo at all. Chiganoura oyakata says Takakeisho’s state is improving every day, but still, he is not practicing at the moment, taking treatments and rehab with a specialized trainer. He will apparently not be in until banzuke day, and then, says Chiganoura oyakata “We’ll see if he can wrestle sekitori”.

As for Takayasu… you can see for yourself. Torn ligament, arm in a cast. He is not supposed to be in the keiko-ba (practice ground) at all, but he is, though apparently, mostly moving a bit and bossing the youngsters around. I’m more worried about him, with his heya’s history of… Kisenosato… than I am about Takakeisho, though.

Chiyonofuji’s Death Anniversary

Three years ago today (July 31), former Great Yokozuna Chiyonofuji, AKA “The Wolf”, died age 61. Members of Kokonoe beya participating in the Jungyo, including tokoyama Tokotake (I hope I got that right) and Gyoji Konosuke, held a moment of silence in his memory:

Mitakeumi declares an Ozeki run

OK, enough sad news. Yesterday, Mitakeumi had his first on-dohyo practice.

On that occasion, he told the press he was very dissatisfied with his result in Nagoya – a mere 9 wins – and declared he was aiming for double figures and the possible start of an Ozeki run in Aki. “I keep telling myself I am the next Ozeki”. So far he is mostly getting reverse butsukari – yesterday he was pushing TV star Tochiozan, today Abi. His moshi-ai results are not exactly Ozeki-level. He had 5 bouts with Tamawashi, Ryuden et al., won 2 and lost 3. But the Jungyo is still young.

Kawaigari du jour

Yesterday Hakuho rested his inner khan, giving nobody kawaigari. But today, he was back. He told Kizakiumi he might go with him, getting a nervous laugh, but eventually decided to break the shin-Juryo pattern, and go with Tomokaze. That was a 7 minutes ordeal, as befits someone who is much more likely to actually meet Hakuho on the dohyo some time soon.

Yes, white-haired guy on the other side of the dohyo, Hakuho is actually tripping his victim as he is trying to push. Kawaigari is great fun!

As for Kizakiumi, Hakuho said “Well, the Jungyo has just begun!”

Merchandising, merchandising!

Kototsurugi (the official sumo illustrator, a former rikishi) created a design for a new line of Enho products, and had Enho promoting it for him:

Enho is depicted as Issun-Boshi in this design. Issun-Boshi, the tiny hero who leaves his parents’ house to sail the seas in a rice bowl with a chopstick for an oar, is the Japanese equivalent of Tom Thumb.

Of course, somebody else would need to empty that rice bowl for him, though, because Enho himself is famous for his dislike for cooked white rice.

I predict this line of merchandise (I have seen this shirt and a lunch bag so far) will be scooped off the shelves as soon as it hits them. Enho is the hottest thing in Sumodom at the moment.

Tachiai’s Sumo Career Tracker

I get a lot of information and inspiration from Herouth’s jungyo coverage. She gives so much insight into a side of the sport that non-Japanese rarely see reported. Frankly, even Japanese don’t see much of this reported outside of local newspapers or Twitter, so much of this side of sumo is completely new to my friends and my wife’s friends. I often find myself doing more research into a topic she’s raised, a lesser-known wrestler she’s featured, or sumo-specific vocabulary.

Her post yesterday featured the homecoming of rank-and-file maegashira Ryuden, alongside mention of fellow Yamanashi export Shobushi. She also shone a light on Shodai’s tsukebito, Asakura, and the former Kototsurugi. Frankly, even Ryuden is a bit of a mystery to me. The last couple of years he seemed to pop up from nowhere and turn into a solid maegashira with the potential to crack into sanyaku.

From his page on the SumoDB, we can see Ryuden’s career actually started back in 2006 and he seemed to have been grinding it out, steadily progressing until he reached Juryo and suffered a major set-back, resulting in multiple consecutive kyujo tournaments. I hate to cite Wikipedia but English-language reporting on sumo wrestlers is difficult to find. So, according to Wikipedia, he fractured his hip, reinjuring it twice and falling way back to Jonokuchi (hat tip to Herouth for catching my error).

When I read this story, I think of how Tochinoshin and Jokoryu clawed their way back into the paid ranks after bad injuries. This also gives a glimpse into the challenges that lie ahead of Ura and Terunofuji. But how well do their stories really compare? It’s quite difficult to see just what Ryuden has overcome in that table.

Effect of Ryuden’s Injury

My day job is data management so I thought I’d put together a simple visualization to give a better visual reference for Ryuden’s career. Time (number of tournaments) is along the horizontal axis. Rank is along the vertical axis. We see his rank crater after he reaches Juryo. Interestingly, for four tournaments in a row, the DB shows that he picks up 1 win, perhaps keeping him from going completely off the banzuke while recuperating. Once healthy, he roared back into the top flights with consecutive yusho in the lower divisions. This should give hope for the young Ura and Terunofuji.

Along with Ryuden, though, this type of visualization also helps give us a glimpse into the careers of the other, even less-well-known rikishi. Shobushi has been a fixture in the Sandanme division for much of the past ten years, though he recently dipped back down into Jonidan. Can he put together a run and make it into Makushita?

Ready for a bounce. Asakura’s yusho will bring him higher, perhaps sandanme?

Asakura is coming fresh off his lower-division yusho, so this graph will need to be updated. He may find himself back in Sandanme. The youngster has started off well but it is challenging to get into the third division.

Lastly, I want to take a look at Kototsurugi, whom Herouth also introduced, alongside Ryuden.

Kototsurugi: Perhaps he has some advice for Shobushi and Asakura?